The contract extension the 49ers have given to offensive lineman
San Francisco, from the front office to the coaching staff, is all about location, location, location, and the middle of the field is prime real estate.
“I think you want to do that in every sport, right?” general manager Trent Baalke told reporters last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Baseball tries to do it. Basketball tries to do it.”
The day before Baalke took the podium in Indianapolis, his head coach shared the same thinking.
“Just like in baseball, you need to be good up the middle, center – catcher, pitcher, shortstop, second base, center fielder,” said Jim Harbaugh, an aspiring shortstop himself growing up. “In the same way you want to be built that way on defense inside – nose tackle, your two linebackers, your safeties.
“Same on offense – center, quarterback, running back.”
Since 2000, well before Baalke and Harbaugh arrived in Santa Clara, their predecessors sought the same sort of consistency. Over these last 14 seasons, the 49ers have employed just five different starters at center. Two-time Pro Bowler Jeremy Newberry manned the slot for five seasons, Eric Heitmann for four and
Goodwin, a beloved figure in the locker room and the man Kilgore backed up each of the last two seasons, will become a free agent on March 11.
GALLERY: The Career of Dan Kilgore
With his three-year extension, announced Thursday by the team, Kilgore now appears to have a mandate to fill 'Goody's' large cleats. He’ll enter his fourth season in 2014 ready to compete for that right; he was the team’s fifth-round draftee out of Appalachian State in ’11 and has excelled in a reserve role awaiting his first NFL start.
Considering the length of this new deal and the value they place in the position he plays, the 49ers are showing how much they trust Kilgore.
“Well, it's good to be good in the middle,” Harbaugh said. “It's the core of your unit, both offensively, defensively. (It's) closest to the ball.”